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Editorial | A Pandemic Is No Time For Partisan Attacks By The Federal Government

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Myopia is a peculiar feature of the politics of the current federal government and the notable figures associated with it. Critics have often suggested that this attitude flows down from the very top of the PTI – of which, unfortunately, there is far too much evidence.

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to acrimonious political debates and clashes in many countries around the world, which is only understandable. But in Pakistan it seems that partisan considerations have been at the very centre of the federal government’s considerations. It all seems to have begun when the opposition PPP-led Sindh government took the lead in recognizing the need for a lockdown as part of its Covid-19 strategy. It must be emphasized that nobody can claim that the Sindh government’s response has been ideal – it can only be said that they understood the nature of the problem faster.

It would appear that some in the federal government found the Sindh government’s swift response highly inconvenient and even embarrassing. That, combined with the general confusion reigning around PM Imran Khan when it comes to the pandemic, led the federal government into the one thing it does best. It began to attack its opponents.

Unfortunately, these attacks have not just been limited to organized hordes of pro-PTI trolls on social media. In fact, ministers have been participating in this mudslinging against a provincial government at a time when the federal government’s own helplessness in the face of business and religious lobbies is manifest for all to see. The state broadcaster PTV was thus made to broadcast federal minister Ali Zaidi’s diatribe against the Sindh government – apparently as part of a larger effort to deflect attention towards partisan squabbling rather than dealing with the healthcare crisis caused by the pandemic.

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There is little need for us to waste any more lines on how horrifying this attitude is. Suffice it to say that it is not just observers in the media who are watching and taking note of all this. The general public is also drawing its conclusions, for not all of it shares the mindset of pro-ruling-party trolls.

If only such games had been reserved for a time when the stakes were lesser, rather than a deadly pandemic.

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to acrimonious political debates and clashes in many countries around the world, which is only understandable. But in Pakistan it seems that partisan considerations have been at the very centre of the federal government’s approach. It all seems to have begun when the opposition PPP-led Sindh government took the lead in recognizing the need for a lockdown as part of its Covid-19 strategy. It must be emphasized that nobody can claim that the Sindh government’s response has been ideal – only that they understood the nature of the problem faster.

The PTI-led federal government is responsible for all of Pakistan, including Sindh. People want swift and intelligent action against the Coronavirus pandemic, not partisan attacks on opposition parties. And the situation right now requires the federal government to establish a working relationship with all provincial governments, including the Sindh government. PM Imran Khan and his team must bring themselves to a level of maturity where they can accomplish this.

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